View Full Version : Original Germanic Days and Months Names?

Thursday, February 20th, 2003, 04:05 PM
Hi, does anyone know the names of the original Germanic days and month names?

I have looked at the Swedish ones but they are very similar to English which are derived from Latin.

I found the Swedish name for Saturday was Lördag, what does Lörs mean? I thought it might mean 'Lord' but that was just a guess.

The names are for a Role Playing Game a friend of mine is writing so we need some Germanic / Swedish non-Latin month and day names.

I think Himmler tried to change day and month names but I'vl lost the website URL where I foundthis information from.


Sunday, October 2nd, 2005, 01:26 PM
The Germans had a totally different understanding of time compared to us "modern" people, in our present society everything is rush rush rush, deadlines, time schedules, we all have clocks and watches and we all eat, work, sleep, etc. at prefixed times, especially in my country the Netherlands people are very hectic, and I bet this is also the case in most other modern countries.

This is probably the result of an over-organised society, in ancient times people had no corporations with strict rules and a 9 to 5 working day, everything was done when it was needed and people didn't stress themselves like we do nowadays.

Most ancient peoples worked hard of course, but they didn't lay as many pressure on themselves as we do today.

They awoke when it got light outside and they went to sleep when it got dark, they lived from day to day and did what they felt was right.
Time was measured by counting the nights and looking at the position of the sun and moon, the Germans were also aware of periodical changes like full moon, new moon, and solstices; when they made an appointment with someone they said something like;"after 3 nights I will meet you near the big tree outside the village when the sun is at one quarter of it's highest position."

Days were counted in nights and a new day began as soon as it got dark, when somebody had to define a certain date he said something like;"This will take place after 5 nights" or "This happened 8 nights ago", I am not entirely sure whether the concept "week" was known to our ancestors but because the days were paired in a group of 7 days they probably also counted by groups of 7 days (=1 week).

Immediately after sunset the next day began, for instance when it was Tiwaz's day and it became dark it became Wodan's night; the new day, and when it got light is was Wodan's day, after sunset it became Thunar's night, etc.

The Germans probably copied their day names from the Romans, they just translated them into their own language and replaced the Roman gods with their Germanic equivalents, the name "Saturday" (dies Saturni in Latin) remained the same in most places, probably because there was no Germanic equivalent for Saturnus or because it resembled an already existing Germanic word that had phonetical similarities with the Latin word, in the Northern Germanic language Saturday was changed into Laugardagr, which means "washing day", the Scandinavians always took a bath on Saturday which was considered very tidy in that time because most people hardly bathed at all.

# Sunday: was named after Sunnon, the incarnation of the Sun.
# Monday: was named after Menon, the incarnation of the Moon.
# Tuesday: was named after the god Tiwaz.
# Wednesday: was named after the god Wodan.
# Thursday: was named after the god Thunar.
# Friday: was named after the goddess Freya (in northern Germanic after Frigg).
# Saturday: the meaning of this word is unknown, it was probably directly copied from the Latin name.

I shall now give some examples of old Germanic day names:

Day: - Meaning:
Sunday - Sun day
Monday - Moon day
Tuesday - Tiwaz's day
Wednesday - Wodan's day
Thursday - Thunar's day
Friday - Freya's day
Saturday - Saturnus(?) day

Latin name:
dies Solis (Sunday)
dies Lunae (Monday)
dies Martis (Tuesday)
dies Mercuri (Wednesday)
dies Jovis (Thursday)
dies Veneris (Friday)
dies Saturni (Saturday)

Old Norse name:
Sunnudagr (Sunday)
Mánadagr (Monday)
Týsdagr (Tuesday)
Óðinsdagr (Wednesday)
Þórsdagr (Thursday)
Frjádagr (Friday)
Laugardagr (Saturday)

Anglo Saxon name:
Sunandaeg (Sunday)
Monandaeg (Monday)
Tiwesdaeg (Tuesday)
Wodnesdaeg (Wednesday)
Thunresdaeg (Thursday)
Frigedaeg (Friday)
Sæterdaeg (Saturday)

Middle Dutch name:
Sondach (Sunday)
Maendach (Monday)
Disendach (Tuesday)
Woensdach (Wednesday)
Donresdach (Thursday)
Vrîdach (Friday)
Saterdach (Saturday)

Old Frisian name:
Somnadei (Sunday)
Monadei (Monday)
Tysdei (Tuesday)
Wernsdei (Wednesday)
Thunresdei (Thursday)
Fredei (Friday)
Saterdei (Saturday)

Proto-Germanic name:
Sunnodagaz (Sunday)
Menodagaz (Monday)
Tiwadagaz (Tuesday)
Wôdanadagaz (Wednesday)
Thunaradagaz (Thursday)
Fraujôdagaz (Friday)
Saterdagazi (Saturday)

Unlike the names of the months the day names have been left intact in most Germanic languages, in some countries the church succeeded into changing the names like in Iceland, while in Germany it only succeeded into renaming the day of Wodan into "Midweek" (Mittwoch).

Here are some examples of the modern day names:

German name:
Sonntag (Sunday)
Montag (Monday)
Dienstag (Tuesday)
Mittwoch (Wednesday)
Donnerstag (Thursday)
Freitag (Friday)
Samstag (Saturday)

Dutch name:
Zondag (Sunday)
Maandag (Monday)
Dinsdag (Tuesday)
Woensdag (Wednesday)
Donderdag (Thursday)
Vrijdag (Friday)
Zaterdag (Saturday)

Frisian name:
Snein (Sunday)
Moandei (Monday)
Tiisdei (Tuesday)
Woansdei (Wednesday)
Tongersdei (Thursday)
Freed (Friday)
Sneon (Saturday)

Icelandic name:
Sunnudagur (Sunday)
Mánuðagur (Monday)
Þriðjudagur (Tuesday)
Miðvikudaguri (Wednesday)
Fimmtudagur (Thursday)
Föstudagur (Friday)
Laugardagur (Saturday)

Danish name:
Søndag (Sunday)
Mandagr (Monday)
Tirsdag (Tuesday)
Onsdagi (Wednesday)
Torsdag (Thursday)
Fredag (Friday)
Lørdag (Saturday)

Norwegian name:
Søndag (Sunday)
Mandag (Monday)
Tirsdag (Tuesday)
Onsdag (Wednesday)
Torsdag (Thursday)
Fredag (Friday)
Lørdag (Saturday)

Swedish name:
Söndag (Sunday)
Måndag (Monday)
Tisdag (Tuesday)
Onsdag (Wednesday)
Torsdag (Thursday)
Fredag (Friday)
Lördag (Saturday)

Just like the modern calendars the beginning and ending of a Germanic month was calculated by using the moon, it takes the moon one month to encircle the earth and the word "month" is even derived from the word "moon" (menoþ - menon).

Because the beginning and ending of the months were dependant on the cycle of the moon it is difficult to give a fixed date, however, it is save to assume that a Germanic month mostly began at the same time as our modern month, though often a few days later, or on the first crescent of the moon.

The names of the months varied in each area, some scholars believe that the month names were invented locally and that there was no common (Proto-Germanic) origin of them, I do not completely agree with this theory because most of the month names have too many similarities to speak of a local origin.

Months were often named after their characteristics; for instance July was named "Haymonth" in most areas because in that month it was time for the farmers to collect hay from their fields.

Most Germanic countries nowadays use the Roman calendar but many of them also have alternative month names that are related to the old Germanic names, especially in the rural areas this old names are still popular.

I shall now list some of the old Germanic month names that were used:

Franconian names:
The Franconian names were introduced by Charlemagne during the Middle Ages, Franconian was a western Germanic dialect from which Dutch and some German dialects originate, the French language also has many words that are derived from Franconian, the Franconian month names were based on older Germanic names.

Franconian name: - Meaning:
Wintarmânoth (January) - Winter month
Hornunc (February) - Horning
Lenzimânoth (March) - Spring month
Ôstarmânoth (April) - Easter month
Wunnimânoth (May) - Pasturing month
Brâchmânoth (June) - Fallowing month
Hewimânoth (July) - Hay month
Aranmânoth (August) - Harvest month
Witumânoth (September) - Wood month
Windumemânoth (October) - Wine month
Herbismânoth (November) - Autumn month
Heilimânoth (December) - Holy month

Western Germanic names:
This month names are in a western Germanic dialect and they were used in the Netherlands and Germany, I am not entirely certain about the exact language they are in but I think it is a form of Low German.

Western Germanic name: - Meaning:
Wolfsmanoth - Wolfs month
Horunnemanoth - Horning month
Thormanoth - Thorra/Thunar(?) month
Ostara - Ostara
Wunnemanoth - Pasturing month
Brachmanoth - Fallowing month
Vainmanoth - Peat month
Aranmanoth - Ares month
Haervistmanoth - Harvest month
Windumemanoth - Wine month
Blótmanoth - Blood month
Heiligmanoth - Holy month

# Wolfs month: during this cold month hungry wolves came out of the forest to prey upon the farmer's livestock.

# Horning month: during this month the animals in the forest lose their horns to grow new ones.

# Thormanoth: the meaning of this name is not entirely clear, I don't think it is related to the god Thor because that name was not used in the Western Germanic language; it may have been a local dialect though, it can also be derived from "Thorri", which was a holiday that was held by some tribes during that period for the incarnation of Winter.

# Ostara: Ostara was a fertility goddess who was honoured during this month.

# Pasturing month: "wunnen" means "pasturing" in English ("weiden" in Dutch and German), during this month the livestock was released from the stables into the fields.

# Fallowing month: "brach" means "fallow" in German, in this time the farmer let the field lay fallow to prevent it from exhausting.

# Peat month: "vain" means "bog" or "peat" in English, ("veen" in Dutch) it was the time when farmers collected peat to use for the fire since it was dryer during this warm month and thus easier to collect.

# Ares month: "aran" means "ares" in English, during this month the farmer harvested ares of corn.

# Harvest month: during this month the farmer harvested his crops and wheat.

# Wine month: During this month wine was made.

# Blood month: "blót" literally means "blood" but the word was also used for "slaughter" and "sacrifice"; during this month animals were slaughtered.

# Holy month: During this month the Jól celebration was held, which was one of the most important Germanic holidays.

Anglo-Saxon names:[B]
This names were used by the Anglo-Saxons in Anglia (England):

Anglo-Saxon name: - Meaning:
(Æfterra) Geola - After Geola
Solmonath - Mud month
Hrethmonath - Month of Hretha
Eostremonath - Month of Eostre
Thrimilci - Three milkings
(Ærra) Litha - Before Litha
(Æfterra) Litha - After Litha
Weodmonath - Weed month
Haligmonath - Holy month
Winterfylleth - Winter Full-moon
Blotmonath - Blood month
(Ærra) Geola - Before Geola

# After Geola: "Geola" is the Anglo-Saxon name for the Jól celebration (also named "Yule"), the Anglo-Saxons had two months for Geola and Litha, one before and one after.

# Mud month: February is a rainy month with lots of mud.

# Month of Hretha: Hretha was an Anglo-Saxon war goddess of whom not much is known.

# Month of Eostre: Eostre was the Anglo-Saxon name for the fertility goddess Ostara.

# Three milkings: cows could be milked 3 times during this month, hence the name.

# Before Litha: Litha is the Anglo-Saxon name for the Summer Solstice.

# After Litha: just like Geola Litha lasted for two months.

# Month of Weeds: during this month the weed ("weod") began to grow more rapidly which gave the farmers lots of work removing it from their fields.

# Holy month: during this month an important holiday was probably held.

# Winter full-moon: the winter season started at the first full moon of this month in the Anglo-Saxon calendar.

# Blood month: during this month animals were slaughtered.

# Before Geola: this was the last month of the year and the beginning of the Jól celebrations.

[b]English names:
In England the Roman calendar is used, the older alternative names are:

English name:

# Note the use of "moon" instead of "month".

Old Norse names:
This names were used in Scandinavia:

Old Norse name: - Meaning:
Thorri - Thorri (incarnation of Winter)
Goi - Gói (Gói was the wife or daughter of Thorri)
Einmanudhr - Single Month
Gaukmanudhr/Saidtidh - Sowing month (beginning of Summer)
Eggtidh - Eggtide
Solmanudhr - Sun month (Midsummer)
Heyannir - Haymaking
Tvimanudhr - Double Month
Hanstmanudhr - Harvest Month
Gormanudhr - Blood month (Winter Finding)
Frermanudhr - Frost Month
Hrutmanudhr - Ram month (Jól)

Danish names:
Denmark uses the Roman calendar, the alternative names are:

Danish name: - Meaning:
Glugmåned - Opening(?) month
Blidemåned - Gentle month
Tormåned - Thorri month
Faremåned - Faring/Travelling month
Majmåned - May month
Hømåned - Hay month
Ormemåned - Worms month
Høstmåned - Autumn month
Fiskemåned - Fishing month
Sædemåned - Seed month
Slagtemåned - Slaughtering month
Julemåned - Jól month

# Glugmåned: the word "glug" means something like "opening", thus; "opening month" as in "opening/start of the year".

# Blidemåned: during this time the temperature is getting milder, hence the name "gentle".

# Tormåned: this name probably refers to Thorri, the incarnation of Winter.

# Faremåned: this was the safest month for ships to sail out.

# Ormemåned: in this time the worms are the most numerous, worms are important to fishermen and since Denmark is a real fishing country it is no surprise that they use this name.

# Fiskemåned: this time is great for fishing because in this month the fish swim closer to the surface, at least that's what I've heard, I don't know anything about fishing though.

# Sædemåned: during this month the seed for the winter was sewn.

Dutch names:
In the Netherlands the Roman calendar is used but there are also alternative names that are based on older Germanic names:

Dutch name: - Meaning:
Louwmaand - Tanning month
Sprokkelmaand - Gathering month
Lentemaand - Spring month
Grasmaand - Grass month
Bloeimaand - Blossoming month
Zomermaand - Summer month
Hooimaand - Hay month
Oogstmaand - Harvest month
Herfstmaand - Autumn month
Wijnmaand - Wine month
Slachtmaand - Slaughtering month
Wintermaand - Wintermonth

German names:
Germany also uses the Roman calendar, but they too use alternative names:

Old German name: - Meaning:
Hartung - Harding
Hornung - Horning
Lenzing - Spring
Ostermond - Ostara month
Wonnemond - Pasturing month
Brachet - Fallowing
Heuert - Haying
Ernting - Harvest
Scheiding - Separation
Gilbhart - Yellowing
Nebelung - Fogging
Julmond - Jól month

Modern German name: - Meaning:
Eismonat - Ice month
Hornung - Horning
Lenzmonat - Spring month
Ostermonat - Ostara month
Wonnemonat - Pasturing month
Brachmonat - Fallowing month
Heumonat - Hay month
Erntemonat - Harvest month
Herbstmonat - Autumn month
Weinmonat - Wine month
Windmonat - Wind month
Christmonat - Christ month

# Hartung: during this month the ground became hard because of the frost.

# Scheiding: this month formed the separation between summer and winter.

# Gilbhart: during this month the forest leaves become yellow.

# Christmonat: this month was renamed under Christian influence.

Reconstruction of the original month names:
I shall now make a reconstruction of the original Proto-Germanic month names that may have been used before the local variations occured, it is of course not certain whether this names were really used but considering the similarities in most old month names it is likely that most of this names were used in some form or another.

The following names are based on a comparison of other calendars, I will also translate them into various other languages so that everybody can understand the meanings of the names too.

English name:

German name:

Dutch name:

Frisian name:

Swedish name:

Danish name:

Norwegian name:

Icelandic name:

Proto-Germanic name:

The Germanic calendar originally had two seasons that were either called Summer and Winter or Spring and Autumn, the four seasons system was later added under Roman influence.

The Germans saw the year as a fight between good and evil; in the first part of the year the world was overtaken by cold, darkness and decay, after the summer solstice the sun gained victory over the cold which caused the second part of the year to be one of warmth, growth, and prosperity.

Most fertility festivals were held during the beginning of Summer to celebrate the victory of life over death and fertility over decline, this was a cycle that kept repeating itself every year and this is also one of the reasons why the sun was so important to ancient peoples, in almost every ancient religion the sun was worshipped as lifebringer; the Aztecs even sacrificed humans to it to ensure its rise the next day.

The ancients were not far from the truth; without the sun there would have been no Earth, no light, no warmt, no growth, no life, and no human existence.

On the Germanic calendar Winter and Summer were both 26 weeks long, so a year was 52 weeks, just like it is today on our modern calendar.

The year was seen as a ring with two halfs; Winter and Summer, after completing the whole cycle of Winter and Summer the ring was complete and a new ring (year) began, the new year started directly after the Jól celebration.

Although the concept "year" was known to the Germans they often counted in either seasons or Winters (depending on local custom), so if the Germans spoke about an event that took place 3 years ago they would have either said;"This happened 3 Winters ago" or "This happened 6 seasons ago" (they only knew 2 seasons), when a longer period had to be named they referred to an event that took place around the same time, for instance the year 580AD would have been defined by saying; "This happened 3 Winters after the battle of Deorham (which took place in 577AD)".

Leap years were unknown in ancient times, for the Germans this didn't cause any problems since the Germanic calendar was based on the cycle of the moon and other astronomical events, but when fixed dates were introduced in later periods this started to become a problem; during the Middle Ages most countries transitioned to the Roman-made Julian calendar that did not knew leap-years either, in western Europe this problem was eventually solved by introducing the Gregorian calendar that uses leap years.

In Iceland this this problem was adressed much sooner; Thorstein Surt introduced a plan in which an extra week was added every 7th year.

The Proto-Germanic name for "year" was "jera", from which modern names like "year", "jahr", "jaar", "ár" and "år" originate.

Source (http://www.geocities.com/reginheim/time.html)

Monday, October 3rd, 2005, 07:18 PM
I should mention that one of the 'things' that inspired my interest in all things aboriginally European was after a high school-aged reading of The Rites and Religions of the Anglo-Saxons (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0880290463/002-2415659-1800007?v=glance). I was amazed and rather stirred to learn of the etymological origins of the days of the week and my interest has not wanned since.

Thanks for the post, Blutwolfin! ;)

Saxon Assassin
Friday, October 14th, 2005, 03:33 PM
Very interesting stuff, thanks you. :)

Saturday, October 15th, 2005, 01:37 AM
I thought I had read somewhere that Iceland now used numbers for their days of the week like day 1, day2, ect...

Is that true?